On the term and concepts of numerical model validation in geoscientific applications
Document typeConference report
Rights accessOpen Access
Modeling and numerical simulation of the coupled physical and chemical processes observed in the subsurface are the only options for long-term analyses of complex geological systems. This contribution discusses some more general aspects of the (dynamic) process modeling for geoscientiﬁc applications including reﬂections about the slightly diﬀerent understanding of the terms model and model validation in diﬀerent scientiﬁc communities, and about the term and methods of model calibration in the geoscientifc context. Starting from the analysis of observations of a certain part of the perceived reality, the process of model development comprises the establishment of the physical model characterizing relevant processes in a problem-oriented manner, and subsequently the mathematical and numerical models. Considering the steps of idealization and approximation in the course of model development, Oreskes et al.  state that process and numerical models can neither be veriﬁed nor validated in general. Rather the adequacy of models with speciﬁc assumptions and parameterizations made during model set-up can be conﬁrmed. If the adequacy of process models with observations can be conﬁrmed using lab as well as ﬁeld tests and process monitoring, the adequacy of numerical models can be conﬁrmed using numerical benchmarking and code comparison. Model parameters are intrinsic elements of process and numerical models, in particular constitutive parameters. As they are often not directly measurable, they have to be established by solving inverse problems based on an optimal numerical adaptation of observation results. In addition, numerical uncertainty analyses should be an obligatory part of numerical studies for critical real world applications.
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